LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Monday, the Louisville Sports Commission named Tennessee senior defensive back and kick returner Evan Berry to the 2017 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse.
Berry is one of 46 multi-talented college football student-athletes on the Watch List. The Paul Hornung Award, now in its eighth season, is given annually to the most versatile player in major college football by the Louisville Sports Commission, and football legend and Louisville native Paul Hornung. The winner and his family will be honored at the annual Paul Hornung Award Banquet presented by KentuckyOne Health, to be held at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville on March 8, 2018. This will be The Paul Hornung Award’s second year as an associate member of the prestigious National College Football Awards Association.
On July 14, Berry earned 2017 Preseason Media Days All-SEC honors as a return specialist. He is also an Athlon Preseason All-American and in 2016 was a Coaches Second Team All-SEC pick after averaging 32.9 yards on 14 kick returns. In the Vols’ win against Georgia, Berry returned a pooch kick 20 yards to the Bulldogs’ 48-yard line and, along with a UGA offsides penalty, helped set up Dobbs’ 43-yard Hail Mary to Jennings. Berry had a 100-yard return for a touchdown at South Carolina on Oct. 29. In 2016, he also tallied 12 tackles and one tackle for loss. As a sophomore in 2015, he ranked first in the NCAA and first in the SEC with a 38.3-yard kickoff return average and was named a First Team All-American by Walter Camp, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. For his career, Berry has returned 49 kicks for 1,677 yards, a UT-record 34.2-yard average and four touchdowns. His 34.2-yard career kickoff return average is the best mark of any current player in the NCAA, regardless of division.
“We have a terrific Watch List again this year,” said Paul Hornung, namesake of the Award, who legendary Coach Vince Lombardi called “the most versatile man ever to play the game.” “I love the fact that we recognize players who have the skill and the right mind set to play anyplace on the field to help their team win games.”
The 2017 Watch List is comprised of one graduate student, 23 seniors, 19 juniors, and three sophomores who play a total of nine different positions. They represent 45 universities in 28 states coast-to-coast across the 10 conferences that are part of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The ACC leads the conferences with 10 players, followed by the SEC with eight players, and the Big Ten with five players.
Players on this year’s Watch List accounted for 10,724 rushing yards, 16,853 receiving yards, 13,548 kickoff return yards, 4,092 punt return yards, and 394 total tackles in 2016. Reminiscent of Hornung during his playing days, members of the Watch List demonstrated a knack for scoring numerous ways. Last season the Watch List players combined for 291 total touchdowns in six different ways – passing, rushing, receiving, punt return, kickoff return, and interception.
The 2017 Watch List was compiled by a panel of college football experts based on a combination of 2016 statistics, career performance, SID recommendations, and expectations heading into the 2017 season.